Crippen looks at the new relaxation of rules for some disabled people

We seem to have a Catch-22 situation regarding autistic and learning- disabled people who, due to a successful legal challenge about the lock-down and social distancing rules, can now apparently ignore them.

cartoon about learning disabled and autistic people challenging Covid 19 rules
Covid 19 rules breached @

It came about when some carers involved with autistic and learning- disabled people successfully challenged the government about the lock-down and social distancing rules. They claimed that the rules were discriminatory and that one of the children they represented, whose conditions mean it was necessary for them to leave the house more than once a day for their wellbeing, was being discriminated against.

Their lawyers argued that the ‘inflexible policy’, which also says people should stay two metres apart from anyone outside of their household, disproportionately impacted those with certain health conditions and was ‘therefore unlawful and discriminatory’.

I can understand that some people who fall into this category would find it difficult to have their routines disrupted and those who rely on close, personal contact in order to feel safe and supported would feel isolated and alone. But doesn’t the protection against this deadly disease takes priority?

And surely this new ruling can only work if the systems to ensure they were properly shielded from the virus were in place already. They’re not. We hear that support workers don’t have Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and that doctors are effectively saying learning disabled people come lower down the life-saving pecking order by placing ‘Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)’ notices above their beds. It can be safely said that the response from this government to coronavirus for learning disabled people has been a complete and utter shamble.

An article in the Guardian sums up the situation:

“In an ideal world, PPE would be readily available, maximum testing and tracing would be done and other measures would be in place to limit the spread of coronavirus. This would mean the relaxing of the social isolation rules for learning disabled people would be a measured response. But in Tory Britain, where the response to the pandemic has been wilfully neglectful, it could sadly prove deadly.”

Description of cartoon for those people using screen reading software

The scene is a swimming pool identified as the ‘Sunnyvale Supported Swimming Club’. Around the pool are several people wearing swim wear who are looking apprehensively at the water. One of the people has downs syndrome and another has ‘Autism Swim Club’ on their swim suite. In the pool are two large shark fins with COVID-19 printed on them. Boris Johnson, wearing purple disposable gloves, has his arm around one person and is saying to them: “Trust us – It’s perfectly safe to jump back in!”

Don’t forget, you can also follow Crippen along with other disabled artrists on the Disability Arts Online (DAO web site.

3 responses to this post.

  1. I have grouped people with autism and those with learning disabilities together as per the source material from the Guardian and The publications. I would be grateful for any comments regarding this grouping.


  2. Posted by Philippa Catnach on 19/04/2020 at 12:32

    Hi there,

    I’m representing Bracknell Sensory Toy Library and have two autistic children myself. Personally, I disagree. For some families it is impossible to have any real standard of living locked in their tiny apartments with neurodivergent children.

    Preventing spread of the virus has to be balanced with maintaining support structures and coping strategies (eg fresh air and exercise). If not properly balanced, sadly some people will be at high risk of death by other causes such as suicide.



    • Thanks for your comment Philippa. It’s always good to hear an alternative point of view. I hope you and your children come through this safely. Take care x


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